Poised to Strike

Mid-America Apartment Communities is gearing up to take advantage of a wave of distressed assets coming online. The Memphis, Tenn.-based REIT recently established a $250 million acquisition fund, a joint venture with an affiliate of Thackeray Partners, which it expects to deploy over the next 18 months. The fund will target value-added deals on properties in the Sun Belt region, with expected returns of about 14 percent. An earlier joint venture with Fannie Mae was discontinued in August 2008, just before the GSE was taken over by the government. —Jerry Ascierto

Terwilliger Retires

The man likely responsible for developing more multifamily housing than anyone else in the country is retiring. Ron Terwilliger, who estimates that he has built nearly 250,000 units of housing during his 30-year-plus career, will step down as chairman of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential (TCR), effective Dec. 31, 2009. Terwilliger will remain advisory director of the Trammell Crow Residential Management Board. “Ron’s leadership and stewardship of our business enterprise over these past years has yielded remarkable results for our financial partners, our partners and associates, and the communities in which we work and live,” incoming chair Harlan Crow and president and CEO Charles Brindell said. —Les Shaver

Cut in Half

In the first half of the year, Fannie Mae processed about $10.1 billion in multifamily loans, an approximately 50 percent drop from the first half of 2008. But the GSE has seen a huge uptick in Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) deals, an execution it has spent much of the year building up. Since the company is under a federal mandate to shrink its portfolio, Fannie Mae has made the MBS execution a priority. To date, more than 71 percent of its production has been through the MBS execution, compared to just 17 percent in the first half of 2008. As the investor base of MBS improves, the pricing on these loans has continued to drop each month. —Jerry Ascierto

Easing Restrictions

Three new bills that recently went into effect in Florida aim to spur development in one of the hardest-hit real estate markets in the country. Collectively, the bills exempt densely populated urban areas from certain processes; expedite permitting; and shift the burden of proof off of developers. Carla Coleman, executive director of the Urban Land Institute’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean district council, is optimistic that the most controversial of these bills, The Community Renewal Act, will help spur growth in the state. “The Community Renewal Act extends building permits for a couple of years,” she says. “Financing continues to be a challenge, but a lot can change in two years.” —Rachel Z. Azoff